The Future is Small (but in a big way)

On November 6, 2015 I attended the Build Small Live Large Summit 2015 where SQFT Studios was an exhibitor. I had the pleasure of hearing many great talks, including the Keynote by Dee Williams of PAD and Alan Durning of the Sightline Institute.

Let me tell you: The future is small. And I mean that in the very best way possible. The average new home built today in America is 2700+sqft. The average number of people living in a single home is 2.5 people. That’s over 1000sqft per person! People are starting to realize that this is not sustainable. Energy costs alone to heat and cool 1000sqft per person are exorbitant. These homes are also expensive, reducing the stock of low-income housing. This, combined with Portland’s Urban Growth Boundary, we need to shift towards smaller housing. ADUs, tiny homes, boarding houses, detached bedrooms, cottage communities. These are all ways to live a smaller, more modest lifestyle.

Policy needs to change in order to make this possible.

It is currently illegal to live full-time in a tiny house on wheels. These tiny houses are viewed as RVs and are not permitted structures. Those who do live in them have to live under the radar. ADUs are currently under scrutiny as they are raising property taxes astronomically. That, and the System Development Charges waiver for ADUs is set to expire July 1, 2016. Policy needs to change in order for us to live the small lifestyle we want to live.

Home Studios are safe from current policy issues.

The biggest takeaway from the BSLL summit for me was that Home Studios are not currently under fire when it comes to policy. Being a permitted structure, they are not outlawed like tiny houses. But, without a kitchen, they are not classified as an ADU, therefore they might not trigger a tax reassessment and do not carry large System Development Charges. SQFT Studios, offering Home Studios, is in a policy “sweet spot”. Simple structural and electrical permits are all that is required when building a Home Studio (one which does not have plumbing). This reduces cost, time, and frustration.

Check out the BSLL website for more information. This is the 2nd summit they have had, so I foresee another one in the near future.

Contact us if you have any questions about living small, Home Studios, or if you even need some help navigating current policy.

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